The Qigong forms and movements, like martial arts forms, are designed as a framework to teach you how your body’s energy (Qi) works and circulates. In addition, the movements stimulate certain acupuncture points on your body, enhancing Qi flow and removing blockages. These forms can be practiced for the rest of your life and are wonderful tools for health, healing and longevity.
We emphasize the repetition of the movements as the primary tool in learning Qigong. The more you repeat the movements, the more you learn about your body’s own energy and you begin to see the real meaning of the movements. This deep understanding takes time, and is difficult to explain to beginning students, as you need to experience it to understand it.
Beyond that, years later, you will then realize that everything you do is a manipulation of your body’s Qi, and that each movement in every day life can be Qigong. You are always encouraging energy flow (by being open and relaxed) or discouraging the flow (by hold grudges, judging yourself and others, etc). Finally, you realize that forms are just guidlines and you can practice “spontaneous Qigong” anywhere, anytime. This means that you can make up your own forms or movements, based on what your body needs at that particular time. Of course, you can make up your own forms anytime, but spontaneous Qigong is about letting go (mentally and physically) and letting the movements create themselves. This type of Qigong cannot be taught, it is something you will instinctively do when your understanding reaches a certain level.
The practice needs to unfold step by step, and you need to pay your dues in order to experience the higher levels. There’s no quick path to this understanding, it comes from patience, persistance and practice.
On a practical note, I find that when I go running on beautiful days, I find it completely energizing to stop a few miles into your run, face the sun, and practice any gathering Qigong movement you’d like. This calms your heart down, brings your body into balance, and energizes you for the next few miles. It’s also great to do as a cool down after a run or any workout for that matter.
If any of you are interested in the movements I personally practice while or after running, see me after class and I’ll be glad to show them to you.